Most online ESL teaching positions are independent contractors. Payment is usually based on a contractual hourly rate or per lesson rate. The rates vary from one company to another, but they tend to fall within a typical range of $18 – $20 per hour. When starting out on your search for online job opportunities, it is important to carefully examine the pay rate, in order to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. For example, let’s look this payment structure:
Company A: This company pays $8 per lesson, plus incentives which can increase the rate to $10 per lesson. Each lesson is 25 minutes. It is only possible to teach two 25 minute lessons in an hour, amounting to 50 teaching minutes, with 5 minutes between each lesson. Therefore, the rate you would make in one hour teaching online for this company would be between $18 – $20. However, this is not an hourly rate. This is a 50 minute rate. If we actually calculated the hourly rate, it would be:
Minimum Hourly Rate: $8 ÷ 25 minutes = $0.30 x 60 minutes = $19.20 per hour
Maximum Hourly Rate: $10 ÷ 25 minutes = $0.40 x 60 minutes = $24 per hour
On the company’s job advertisement (or website), it has publicized the hourly rate, but when you see your actual earnings, you will have been paid per lesson.
Company B: This company pays $22 – $26 per hour, but their lessons are 30 minutes in duration, with a 5-minute break between lessons. For example:
Class 1: 6:00 – 6:30
Class 2: 6:35 – 7:05
For these two classes, you have taught a total of one hour, with a 5 minute break between each class. However, completing two 30-minute classes took 1:05 hours (or 65 minutes) of your time, which is more than one hour.
Let’s calculate the pay rate for the time spent teaching:
Minimum Hourly Rate: $22 per hour ÷ 65 minutes = $0.34 x 60 minutes = $20.30 per hour
Maximum Hourly Rate: $26 per hour ÷ 25 minutes = $0.40 x 60 minutes = $24.00 per hour
In this case, though you have been paid per hour, you did technically work more than an hour, so to be honest with yourself, you need to adjust the hourly rate so that it is calculated on a true hour.
Comparing Company A and Company B shows us that both companies have publicized their rates per hour, but both companies are effectively paying you per lesson, though Company A requires 50 minutes of teaching time while Company requires 65 minutes of teaching time.
On the surface, Company B is offering a more attractive rate, but in actuality, both companies are really offering very similar pay.
When you are reviewing the contract and payment structure for any online ESL teaching position, pay attention to how you will be paid as opposed to looking at the published hourly rate, so you can calculate your actual earnings. Companies tend to advertise the hourly rate, though it is possible for teachers to think this is what they will be paid per lesson.